Ransomware attacks have become one of the most prevalent cyber threats out there.
This year, global ransomware damage costs are expected to reach $20 billion, up from just $8 billion in 2018. What’s even more alarming is that 50 percent of organizations in the United States have experienced a ransomware attack, and the figure jumps up to 90 percent in the financial sector.
Even with the best-in-class ransomware protection solutions guarding all endpoints, there’s still some risk of experiencing a ransomware attack. Knowing what to do when the worst-case scenario becomes a reality can be the difference between a few hours or days of downtime and your organization permanently closing its doors.
What Makes Ransomware Attacks So Dangerous?
Ransomware attacks are a special kind of malware that’s engineered to encrypt important data and make their decryption possible only after a ransom has been paid, typically in a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or Monero.
Because it takes some time to encrypt a large quantity of data, most strains of ransomware hide their activity until it’s already too late for the victim to act.
They then present themselves with a ransom note and, in many cases, some sort of a countdown timer.
When the timer reaches zero, the private decryption key is automatically destroyed.
Some ransomware, such as Satana, Petya, goes as far as to encrypt the Master Boot Record (MBR) section of a hard drive, making it impossible for users to boot up their systems. This type of ransomware can instantly bring productivity to a grinding halt by preventing employees from doing any work at all on their computers, let alone retrieving important data or notifying customers and partners about the situation via email.
Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the first half of 2020, ransomware attacks on organizations of all sizes have skyrocketed, with opportunistic cybercriminals attempting to exploit the cybersecurity holes created by the sudden move to remote working arrangements.
6 Critical Cybersecurity Policies Every Organization Must Have
Best Ransomware Data Recovery Strategies & Methods
As dangerous as ransomware attacks are, they don’t always have a bad ending.
There are several tried-and-tested ransomware data recovery strategies that you can use to recover lost data or, at the very least, minimize the impact of the attack.
1. Detect & Isolate the Ransomware Infection
You can’t effectively recover from a ransomware attack unless you detect it while there’s still time to act. When you see the ransom note displayed on your monitor, you know that your files have been encrypted, and you also know that the ransomware had plenty of time to spread across the network and infect other devices.
To prevent this from happening, you should invest in real-time ransomware detection capabilities. The best solutions use artificial intelligence and machine learning to monitor your hard drive activity and look for any abnormalities, such as successive changes made to system files.
Once an ongoing ransomware attack has been detected, the next step is to isolate all infected devices to prevent further spread. Initially, it’s best to treat all devices as infected because ransomware sometimes lies dormant until some time passes, which is when it suddenly activates itself and starts wreaking havoc.
2. Use Ransomware Decryption Tools
Not all ransomware creators are equally capable, which is why some ransomware strains are extremely dangerous, some don’t work at all, and some use weak or faulty encryption algorithms that can be decrypted using readily available decryption tools.
If you don’t know which strain of ransomware you’re dealing with, you can use a ransomware detection service such as ID Ransomware. Once you know the name of the ransomware that has infected your network, you need to look for a working decryption tool.
The No More Ransom! Project has a long list of reliable ransomware decryption tools, and many cybersecurity software companies, such as Avast and Kaspersky, offer free ransomware decryption tools on their websites.
3. Restore Encrypted Data from a Backup
If you don’t manage to decrypt your files using ransomware decryption tools, then it’s time to put your backups to good use. Many organizations follow the 3-2-1 backup best practice, which means they have three copies of all important files stored on two different media types, with one copy kept offsite.
The offsite copy is your safest bet when recovering from a ransomware attack because your local copies, if attached to the network, could be infected as well. Cloud backup services make it especially easy to recover encrypted data, and most leading cloud backup providers have even implemented native ransomware protection mechanisms to protect your cloud data from being updated by potentially infected devices.
Just make sure to begin recovering lost data from a backup only when you’re 100 percent certain that the infection has been contained and the exploited attack vector has been patched or modified.
4. Last Resort: Pay the Ransom
Paying the ransom should always be your last resort. Why? Because you could lose not only your data but also your money.
“Paying a ransom doesn’t guarantee you or your organization will get any data back,” explains the FBI on its website. “It also encourages perpetrators to target more victims and offers an incentive for others to get involved in this type of illegal activity.”
But if you’re really desperate to get your data back and have exhausted all other options, then paying the ransom might just be the right gamble to take, especially if the ransom amount isn’t particularly steep compared with the value of your data.
Staying Secure and Avoiding Ransomware Attacks with OSIbeyond
While ransomware data recovery is often possible, it’s always best to proactively avoid ransomware attacks by implementing a robust cybersecurity program and adhering to ransomware prevention best practices.
OSIbeyond has years of expertise in helping organizations keep their data secure and protected from opportunistic cybercriminals, who don’t hesitate to exploit every opportunity they get for their own personal gain.
To find out more about our enterprise-grade cybersecurity solutions and our unique approach based on leading standards and guidelines, contact us over the phone or via email.